The other day, a fellow City Pages staffer was
ranting er, remarking upon the reduced size of the miniature, or "fun size" candy bars in the assorted mix of Halloween treats he'd purchased. "The Three Musketeers, is now like one-and-a-half Musketeers!" he bellowed.
I thought the guy was full of high fructose corn syrup until I got my hands on a "fun size" Snickers and realized that he was right: Just as we were all preparing for our annual candy fix, Mars had definitely put its bars on a diet.[jump]
Now, I'm not talking about those terrible little breath mint-size "bites"--show me a person who eats just one of those, what a joke!--but the two-inchers that people tend to give out to trick-or-treaters. The wrapper on my Snickers looked about the same, but the bar seemed slimmer. Opening the package, the bar's cross section had clearly diminished and the length looked shorter as well. You'd practically have to eat the whole thing in one bite to get a satisfying mouthful.
With the obesity crisis now a full-blown epidemic, the last thing most Americans need is to be eating more candy, but reduce the "fun size" to the point that's it's just a bite and people who used to just eat one will certainly now eat two. And from a value perspective, now that the candies are smaller, are there more in the bag, or was reducing the size a sneaky way for a manufacturer to avoid raising prices? Was Mars ripping us off?
BJ Novak and Conan talk Cadbury Conspiracy Theories.
Food companies do this sort of thing all the time, and those of us who don't, say, stash sweets in the freezer from year to year never notice. During a 2007 episode of Late Night with Conan O' Brien, though, actor B. J. Novak admitted to being a Cadbury horder and exposed the significant size difference between the '06 and '07 vintages, despite the claim on the Cadbury's website that said the eggs were not getting smaller, but rather, "you've just grown up!" (The site was later changed to clarify that only American eggs had changed size, while UK Creme Eggs remained the same.)
A request to Snickers regarding the current change has not yet been answered, but the UK's Daily Mail reported that Mars UK had reduced the size of Snickers and Mars bars by 7.2% while keeping their prices the same. Mars UK initially tried to claim that the switch was motivated by a desire to aid the obesity crisis, but later admitted that the change was enacted to offset rising manufacturing costs.